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Deep Water Horizon: Revisiting Worst Oil Spill in the US

Oct 10, 2016 04:02 AM EDT
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Hollywood has once again taken movie lovers in a world of terror and pain as they portray the "real" events that occurred before and during the explosion of the offshore drilling rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico.

According to the report from Forbes, Deepwater Horizon is an oil rig about 41 miles southeast of Louisiana Coast. It is owned Transocean under contract with British Petroleum (BP). On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon exploded, sending plumes high in the air and a barrage of oil and debris were spewed in the ocean. The tragic event, which is considered to be the worst man-made oil disaster in the U.S., took 11 lives and has a devastating impact in the environment.

Within three months after the explosion, about 210 million gallons of oil leaked into the ocean. The oil spill contaminated the Gulf of Mexico, killing wildlife and damaging marine ecosystems. After-effects of the Deepwater Horizon can still be felt today. However, six and a half years may be a long time that the lives and resources damaged by the explosion is being slowly forgotten.

The film, starring Mark Wahlberg, Kate Hudson, Kurt Russel and John Malkovich, claims to portray what really occurs in the Deepwater Horizon before the explosion. In the film, BP plays some sort of villainy role. The rig is 43 days behind schedule and onboard BP executive Donald Vidrine, played by Malkovich, is losing his patience.

Vidrine is pressuring the onboard mechanics of Deepwater Horizon to continue the drilling operation despite numerous safety and equipment concerns brought up by crew chief Jimmy Harrell, played by Kurt Russell, and Mike Williams, played by Wahlberg.

The film also showed that BP canceled a test of the sea floor cement block, which protected the rig, due to the concerns about budget and time. Thinking of the safety of all his crew, Harrell suggested a negative pressure test to check the piping. The result of the negative pressure test is inconclusive but Vidrine insisted on pushing through the drilling operations.

What happened next is a complete tragedy, a mixture of mud, water and oil is erupting from the drilling hole and getting caught on fire. A nearby oil barge helped rescuing the crews of Deepwater Horizon, passing through a literal ocean of fire. A total of 11 crews did not make it out alive.

Houston Chronicle reported that BP pleaded guilty to manslaughter for the deaths of the 11 workers and paid a total of $4 billion in criminal fines and penalties in 2013. Additionally, BP also paid $20.8 billion environmental settlement last April 2016.

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